Carly Fiorina waited until the end of her appearance at The Citadel to unload on leading GOP rival Donald Trump, saying the surprise Republican presidential front-runner is getting too much credit for making immigration a battle point of 2016.
“With all due respect to Mr. Trump, he did not bring this issue up,” Fiorina told more than 250 people Tuesday who came to hear her views on foreign policy and national defense.
“We have talked about it for every election for 25 years.”
The reason nothing has been done about meaningful comprehensive immigration reform in Washington, she said, is pure government “ineptitude.”
“Politicians of both sides talk about it, but nobody does anything about it,” the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said.
She advocated more money, manpower and technology on the border. “But most importantly, you need leadership and political willpower.”
Trump’s emergence as a front-runner coincided with his criticism of sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants, expanding the use of deportations and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Fiorina’s appearance in Charleston was her first here in months and comes on the heels of her strong performance last week in the Republicans’ nationally televised debate. A recent national CNN/ORC poll of Republican voters released Sunday put her second in the 15-way GOP field, or about 10 points behind Trump.
How she’ll fare in early voting state South Carolina remains to be seen, but she is in the middle of a three-day swing through the state. The GOP primary is Feb. 20. She’ll formally file for the primary on Wednesday at state GOP headquarters.
Fiorina’s appearance was in front of a forum sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security, which is providing platforms for all the candidates to discuss their positions on national defense matters and other global issues.
She broke little new ground in terms of unique positions in the GOP field. But she did give tough views on dealing with China, Russian President Vladimir Putin and in opposing the closing of the U.S.-run terrorist detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
“I don’t think you fix things that aren’t broken,” she said. “I don’t think Gitmo is broken. Keep it open.”
She blamed much of the world’s security problems on a pattern of weak responses to global hot spots by the Obama administration, which, she said, has allowed America’s rivals to expand their aggression.
On the issue of cybersecurity, Fiorina said the Chinese hacking of the federal government should be met with retaliation.
Fiorina conceded that she has no clear path to address the problems in Syria, but she said America should arm allies in the region. She also said she will call for a Camp David summit meeting of U.S. allies in the Middle East on combating ISIS.
Some of those in the audience said they liked what they heard from Fiorina.
“It’s cliche, but she’s never been a part of a political machine,” said Jolie Maszk of Mount Pleasant. “She’s not the fringe lunatic that Trump is.”
Trump’s barbs aimed at Fiorina escalated once again earlier this week during media interviews when he questioned the success of her time at troubled one-time computer giant Hewlett-Packard, also calling her unelectable.
“When people see her record, I don’t see how she could possibly win,” Trump said Monday on NBC’s “Today Show.”
“She’s got a good line of pitter-patter, but if you listen for five minutes you develop a tremendous headache,” Trump also said during a Fox News interview.